He said it was an easy hike.
“Yep, we take our thermos of coffee up there to watch the sunrise a couple times a week. It’s beautiful and not a bad hike at all.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire!That hike up the mountain about kicked my butt! Ok, so I was out of shape and hadn’t hiked in years but still…. He shouldn’t have billed it as a piece of cake!
Our friends Mike and Kim had a cabin in the beautiful north Georgia mountains and thanks to their generosity, it was ours for a few days during the boys’ fall break from school. Oh, my goodness, what a restful yet adventurous place this was. The fall colors were stunning! We were anticipating fishing in the river behind the cabin, driving through the river to actually get to the cabin, watching out for deer and bears, roasting marshmallows over the firepit in the back yard and yes, hiking up the mountain to their favorite spot.
They told us all about the panoramic view from this mountaintop vantage point and left written directions to it on the kitchen table. “It’s a well-worn trail and not a bad hike at all. The boys will be totally fine doing it. Once you get to the top, it opens up and the view is spectacular! Make sure you go there at least once before you leave.”
We decided on day two we would eat breakfast and then venture up the mountain to this wondrous spot. Everyone put on their appropriate footwear and I made sure we had the necessary bug repellent, water and minimal first aid supplies should the need arise. We had even, the day before, fashioned walking sticks from tree limbs we found in the woods near the cabin because walking sticks were cool when you went on an adventurous hike.
We donned our light jackets on this chilly fall morning and set out to experience the adventure that was before us.
Mike was right, the trail was evident and worn even though it had rocks and numerous limbs and branches strewn on it. As I stood at the base of the path looking up, my assessment was that it had a gentle and gradual incline to it and the numerous trees gave cover to the warmer temperatures that would come in just a couple of hours. I was confident in my ability to navigate this terrain.
The beauty on the mountain focused my attention on how awesome the Lord truly is. The fall colors, the smell of a mountain morning and the sounds of birds singing and chipmunks and squirrels running around took my mind to a peaceful place. As I watched my four boys and husband having so much fun, thankfulness swelled in my heart. This was a great day!
About twenty minutes into the hike, the quads in my legs began to burn a bit and I felt the need for some extra water. Assuming all my boys were feeling the same thing, I called out “resties” for a moment. They humored me but let me know they could drink their water while they were walking!
Feeling a little warm, I took off my jacket, tied it around my waist, re-hooked the water bottle and after resting for a couple of minutes, somewhat happily gave the “march on” proclamation to my crew. As we began to move, a troubling thought came to me. I had no idea exactly how long this hike was going to be. I assumed it was no longer than 20 or 30 minutes based on what Mike had said but what if my assumption was wrong? Had I made an error in not pacing myself correctly?
Another ten minutes go by, the terrain is getting steeper and my body is fatiguing more quickly than I had anticipated. I’m even getting a few waves of nausea with the altitude and exertion. And by the way, the walking stick was not helping at all! The boys notice my distress, Banks relieves me of the pack of first aid supplies and makes the decision to take more breaks and slow the pace a bit. One by one, they rotate in to check on me and tell me how great I’m doing. “Come on Mom! You’re doing great! You’re not THAT old! You can do this! I’m sure we’re almost to the top!”
I trek on, attempting to remember the peaceful feeling I had at the bottom of the trail. I no longer hear the birds or appreciate the scurrying squirrels. My only thoughts are centered around taking the next step up this mountain and fighting the urge to quit.
After another 10 minutes, my legs are burning, my heart is pounding, I want to throw up and the joy has most definitely left me.
How in the world does everyone else seem to be floating up this mountain and I feel as if I’m dragging a two-ton pick-up behind me?!
And then, at the exact moment my brain tells me I can’t make one more step, I see it — a big rock off to the right side of the trail and just at waist level there is an indentation on this rock that is shaped like — a rear end!
It’s a sign!!
I rush over, fit my backside into the perfectly sized template and muster up enough voice to make the proclamation that I will wait right here until everyone else returns from the thermos full of coffee summit.
There are many objections to this decision but after a few minutes of insistence, they all resolve to trek on and take a lot of pictures to show me when they return. They settle me in to my butt shaped rock and with a kiss from Banks they continue on with the adventure without me.
As I watch them round the rocky corner about 200 feet in front of me, I have a moment of remorse about this decision. Even though my body was spent, perhaps I could have gone on. Maybe with just a couple more minutes of rest I could have talked my body into it. I was so looking forward to seeing the view from the top and I will miss getting to experience that with my family. Maybe the decision to quit was a bit premature.
Then literally one minute after they rounded that corner 200 feet in front of me, I hear them calling out to me, “Mom! It’s right here! The top is right here, come on!”
Instantly revived, I jumped up and practically ran to close the 200 -foot distance between my rock and the summit.
As I rounded the corner, the view wasn’t at all what I had expected.
It was better!
“It was worth it Mom, wasn’t it!”
It was SO worth it. You could see for hundreds of miles in each direction. There was a thick blanket of fall colors running up and over each valley and peak as far as the eye could see. The sky was bright blue and the sporadic clouds were billowy and white. Mike was right – it was spectacular!
God is awesome!
I was prepared for an invigorating morning hike, experiencing the joy of nature with my family and culminating with a glorious view of God’s creation.
It got difficult and I wasn’t expecting that. It wasn’t at all like I had imagined it to be. I wanted the journey to be easy and when it wasn’t, I began to focus solely on how hard it was rather than focus on what the Lord might have at the top of this thing. And so I quit.
Question: Had I known the summit was only 200 feet away, do you think I would have quit when I did? Of course not!
Scripture is full of references and stories about perseverance, steadfastness and endurance. We even know why God calls us to them – they produce good things in us and great things for the Kingdom. So why do we so often quit? I think we all have similar answers to that. Because we get distracted, because we lose interest or it doesn’t look like we expected it to, because “life” gets in the way, it requires too much time or the payoff just doesn’t seem to fit the amount of energy it will require.
What if, instead of deciding for ourselves what is best, we ask the Lord what to do? After all, we went into the venture believing God had presented it to us as an invitation to move into more of what He intended for us. His purpose still exists.
I guarantee the enemy will send a butt shaped rock to you as an invitation to quit! He does not want you to fulfill your God-given purpose no matter how “big” or “small” that purpose is. He knows if you reach the destination God has set before you, power will be released and the divine will of God will be set into motion.
Make a decision today to press on! Call on the name of the Lord, the way through this thing comes from Him and the purpose for it is beyond what you can see.
Go ahead – confound the enemy with your resolve! He hates that!
Thank you Jesus!!